Safety tips for driving through Lake Street/Excelsior corridor

Over a couple years of systematic observations of the streets and intersections along the West Lake Street/Excelsior Boulevard corridor north of Lake Calhoun, the CIDNA- West Calhoun Safety Committee has recorded too many common traffic violations. Based on these, we want to offer some reminders for driving safely and courteously through the oversaturated Lake Street/Excelsior Boulevard corridor, one of the most heavily traveled pavements in the entire state.

Too many drivers run red lights and/or speed where they see the chance.  At the same time, many walkers and cyclists are trying to cross Lake Steeet to get to Lake Calhoun. Dangers to cyclists and walkers are inevitable. For example, during rush hours we observe one to two cars blatantly running red lights with every traffic light cycle (40 per hour). Similar numbers regularly block intersections. At the Dean Parkway/Lake Street intersection, we record five to six close calls (near-misses and/or screeching brakes) per hour during rush hours.

So, we want to remind drivers of the following:

1. Please slow down when you see the yellow light ahead. Do not speed up. If the light turns red before you get to the intersection, you have broken the law. You also put other drivers, walkers and cyclists at risk by running red lights. Further, you contribute to a growing culture among drivers that says it is OK to run red lights.

2. Also remember that a green light does not simple mean ”Go.” By law it means “Go Only If It Is Safe To Do So.” If in elderly pedestrian is still in the crosswalk ahead, green does not give you right of way. Safety trumps your green light.

3. When it comes to intersections, remember that green means “Go only if you are certain you can clear through the intersection.” If you do not know for certain you can get through, do not enter. One of the most common violations we have observed is the blocking of intersections by cars entering the “box” on green, then getting stuck there because the traffic ahead is not moving.

4. Remember too that it is a violation of the law to block pedestrian crossings while waiting to get through an intersection, or to turn right. Bikes and walkers have the right of way.

5. Please remember also how dangerous a left turn on full green can be to walkers and cyclists who are crossing on the same full green with their pedestrian crossing light on. One of the most common close calls we have observed is drivers hurriedly trying to squeeze in a left turn on full green before oncoming traffic gets there. Their focus on beating the oncoming traffic can mean being less attentive to walkers and cyclists whose path they will cross — and who have the right of way.  Nationally, left turns on green cause more pedestrian deaths than any other turns.

6. Remember too that it is a violation of the law to cross a crosswalk while pedestrians are in it. This is also a violation we have observed far too often.

Richard D. Logan
Joint CIDNA – West Calhoun Safety Committee